February 20, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) confiscated today’s edition of Al-Tayar and Al-Youm Al-Tali newspapers after publishing statements made yesterday by the leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan al-Turabi.
Turabi accused the security apparatus at a press conference in Khartoum of wiretapping his office and showed journalists some of the listening devices he found. But the government deny any involvement in this.
NISS officers responsible for monitoring newspapers verbally ordered newspapers not to publish Turabi’s allegations but Al-Tayar and Al-Youm Al-Tali disregarded the instructions and included it in today’s edition.
But Al-Tayar newspaper editor in chief Osman Mirghani suggested that the move by NISS was prompted by its coverage of a corruption scandal at a government-owned cotton company.
Security agents arrived after midnight at the newspaper’s Khartoum offices and seized the entire Monday edition after it had been printed, he told Reuters.
Around 20 reporters of the paper protested Monday against the confiscation infront of the National Press Council which is in charge of licensing newspapers.
“Al-Tayar has not collapsed yet,” read one banner.
Since the start of this year, Sudan has closed down two daily newspapers, Ra’y al-Sha’b, which toes the line of the PCP, and Alwan, which is privately owned but is suspected by the authorities of being sympathetic with PCP. The authorities also seized copies of several newspapers as punishment for publishing material disapproved by the government.
Sudan has been ranked among the world’s 10 worst countries with regards to media freedom in the 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders.